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From evidence to action: FHI 360 joins USAID to host evidence summit

Research-based evidence summit focuses on behavior change to reduce child mortality

June 05, 2013

FHI 360 joined forces with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), in collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to launch the Behavior Change Evidence Summit for Child Survival on June 3–4 to ensure we are all doing what works best to end preventable child deaths and promote healthy growth and development. The Summit brings together global leaders to determine what is needed to change health-related behaviors in lower and middle income countries (LMICs) and reduce under-five mortality.  

The Summit is more than a specific event; it is a part of an extended process that will result in important products and action plans for policy, programmatic and research recommendations grounded in scientific evidence, resulting in positive behavior change and increases to child survival in developing nations. Country-level ownership of this process is vital, and the summit seeks to create ways to strengthen national and local capacity.  Every child – no matter where they live – deserves a 5th birthday.

This year, nearly 7 million children will die before they turn five.  While most of these children are in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, many countries worldwide are falling short of achieving the United Nations (UN) Millennium Development Goals focused on reducing child mortality and improving maternal health. Most of what needs to be done to bring down the rate of child deaths is known — getting children to sleep under a bed net, and ensuring they receive life-saving vaccines and nutritional supplements — but the social and behavioral barriers can be complex.

“We have the technology and know-how to change this brutal fact of life,” said Dr. Rajiv Shah, Administrator of USAID. “In the 1000 days leading up to December 2015 deadline for the Millennium Development Goals, new vaccines against diarrhea and pneumonia, bed nets for malaria, and nutritional supplements for pregnant women and young women, could save nearly 4.4 million children.  Life-saving tools must be widely accessed and properly used at the correct time. This requires a sustainable shift in health-related behaviors.”

“Thanks to the hard work of USAID and its partner organizations, today most child deaths are preventable,” said Tim Mastro, MD, Director, Global Health, Population and Nutrition for FHI 360.  “FHI 360 is committed to implementing programs built on the best available evidence and to generating new evidence so that we can continue the important work of reducing child mortality.”

Since the Child Survival: Call to Action last June, more than 172 governments, 400 civil society organizations, and 220 faith-based groups have committed to reducing under-5 mortality from preventable causes. At the Call to Action, hosted by the Governments of Ethiopia, India, and the United States, in close collaboration with UNICEF, world leaders in attendance embraced the strategic shifts necessary to speed up progress in reducing preventable child deaths. Now, nearly one year later, almost two hundred experts are joining together to develop evidence-based recommendations to ensure we effectively meet these commitments. These “evidence-to-action” recommendations will seek to drive shifts in policy, programs, and research.

The summit builds on Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed a global movement, uniting a number of partners around the goal of ending preventable child deaths by 2035.  For the first time in history, we have the available knowledge and technologies to reach the world’s most marginalized children with life-saving interventions. Organizations and ministries who have signed the A Promise Renewed pledge have made great strides since the Call to Action, and will be able to apply the evidence from the Behavior Change Evidence summit to further accelerate progress on newborn, child and maternal survival.

About the Population-Level Behavior Change Evidence Summit for Child Survival

On June 3-4, 2013, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), in collaboration with UNICEF, is hosting an evidence-based summit to examine research for effective interventions and strategies required to support a sustainable shift in health-related behaviors for populations in LMICs to reduce morbidity and mortality in children younger than 5 years old. The Summit is sponsored by UNICEF, National Institute of Mental Health, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The Communications Initiative Network and the American Psychological Association.

USAID is committed to an evolving model of partnership with those we serve around the world. We recognize that sustainable solutions for global challenges are a joint effort with the countries we work in, partner of all sizes, citizens, and the wider development community. We're passionate about challenging conventional wisdom to create new ways to work directly with local entrepreneurs, civil society organizations and partner country governments.

About FHI 360: FHI 360 is a nonprofit human development organization dedicated to improving lives in lasting ways by advancing integrated, locally driven solutions. Our staff includes experts in health, education, nutrition, environment, economic development, civil society, gender equality, youth, research, technology, communication and social marketing — creating a unique mix of capabilities to address today’s interrelated development challenges. FHI 360 serves more than 60 countries and all U.S. states and territories.

About FHI 360’s Work in Child Health: FHI 360’s child health work focuses on approaches to improving infant and young children feeding practices. Through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Alive & Thrive initiative, FHI 360 is applying an innovative, social franchising delivery model to reduce undernutrition and stunting in children younger than 2 years of age in Bangladesh, Ethiopia and Vietnam. In addition, FHI 360 implements the Food and Nutrition Technical Assistance (FANTA) project, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, providing global technical support in maternal and child health, community-based nutrition, food security and livelihood strengthening. Our 360° comprehensive approach to child health also includes work on child anemia, diarrheal disease, integrated and community-based primary health care, orphans and youth health care programming.

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